The Two Party System

Written by David Frum on Friday September 9, 2011

Comparing and contrasting the jobs speeches of Mitt Romney and President Obama, Americans face an unhappy choice.

One political party has decided that the only thing that matters - or anyway, that can be achieved - is to enhance America's long-term growth path by reducing regulations, rationalizing taxes, and restraining government spending in future years. As for today's economic crisis? We'll just have to tough it out. And when it says "we," it means: the unemployed, those without health insurance, etc.

The other political party, by contrast has lots of ideas for remedying the crisis: monetary ease, fiscal stimulus, middle-income tax relief, tax credits to hire the unemployed, etc. And their ideas for the longer term future of the country? More of the same, forever, leading to a permanently enlarged state, financed by permanently higher taxes - and taxes of the most peculiarly destructive kind.

What America needs is a good government faction to enlighten at least one party (or ideally both) that the country faces both a short-term crisis and a long-term challenge. The US needs both a big anti-recession program of monetary ease, aid to the unemployed, infrastructure spending, tax relief, and mortgage write-downs - and also, but later - a long-term growth program of deregulation, spending restraint, stricter control of healthcare costs, and a shift in the basis of taxation from income taxes and corporate taxes to carbon taxes or a VAT.

Call it the Hamiltonian Party, because the work of nation-building never ends.